Phones Review

Apple & Google diabolical nexus 4, iPhone 5 supply: Update

Under: Apple iPhone, Google Android, LG
Date: December 4th, 2012

Two of the most prominent smartphones at the moment are the Apple iPhone 5 and the Google Nexus 4, made by LG. These are both flagship devices for their respective operating platforms with the iPhone 5 running iOS 6 and the Nexus 4 running the very latest Android operating system, 4.2 Jelly Bean. However there has been a problem for both, with demand far outstripping supplies. Today we want to discuss how both Apple and Google have been diabolical when it comes to Nexus 4 and iPhone 5 supply.

It’s fair to say that both of these handsets are seeing phenomenal demand but it’s also fair to say that both Apple and Google should have anticipated such demand. Apple is used to every iPhone iteration selling in massive numbers and yet never seems to have enough initial stock to supply orders quickly. Google is selling the Nexus 4 through the Google Play Store and again should have anticipated that the phone would be extremely popular. Any Nexus device is always desired by Android enthusiasts as they offer a pure vanilla Android experience and are the first to receive OS updates. The Nexus 4 was released running the latest 4.2 Jelly Bean OS (now upgradable to 4.2.1) and so demand was always going to be high.

We have spoken many times now about shortages of both of these phones. The iPhone 5 was released in late September and as usual the first available stocks sold out in hours with shipping dates soon pushed back to three to four weeks. A couple of weeks ago we told how although the phone had now been released for around two months it was still difficult to get hold of. In the U.S. for example, it was still listed on contract for every carrier with a two to three week delivery wait, although times had previously been longer still.

In the U.K. though, it was easier to get an iPhone 5 on contract but if ordering unlocked through Apple online one Phones Review colleague waited four weeks. The online Apple UK store was at that time showing unlocked stock with a delay of two to three weeks. Today we’ve just checked again and at last shipping times have dramatically improved. In the US Apple online now gives a two to four day shipping time for the iPhone 5 on contract with every carrier and as we told recently, Apple in the US has now begun selling the iPhone 5 unlocked and stocks for this are still listed as just two to four days.

It’s a similar story in the UK with times now listed as two to four days and so although Apple looks to be finally catching up with demand we shouldn’t forget that it is now two and a half months since the iPhone 5 release and that’s a huge amount of time for a major manufacturer to be so behind with supplies. Plenty of people will feel they have had to wait too long and that Apple really should have been more in control of making sure that initial stocks would be enough. On the other hand, every iPhone release seems to be the same story as far as short supplies go and there has often been widespread speculation that Apple deliberately manipulates more demand by keeping stocks short and that this is all part of its sales strategy.

So what about the Nexus 4? This also sold out within hours of going on sale but this one was only released on November 13. There has been real frustration though about the shortages of this phone and we’ve documented this and received many comments from readers who are disappointed that Google did not have enough stock to supply initial demand. What’s more, when the first stocks sold out so quickly, potential customers were not even able to order with a later shipping date but simply told that it was sold out and to check again later. Plenty of people got pretty fed up constantly checking though, which is understandable.

Although recently more stock went on sale through the Google Play Store in the US this also sold out almost instantly and shipping times for the 8GB version were soon pushed back to eight to nine weeks while the 16GB version was available to order with a shipping time of four to five weeks. This was later pushed back further to between six and seven weeks, thus scuppering chances of fulfilling Christmas wish lists. At least consumers in the US can actually place orders though, something denied to those in the UK who are still met with the sold out and check back soon message.

Whenever we write about Apple vs Google we are always inundated with comments from readers who are fiercely in favor of one platform over the other but in this case it seems that both companies have let down their customers with the same lack of foresight and lack of stock. Perhaps the new motto for both should be, “Do not sell if you cannot supply”? It does seem a pretty poor show that such huge companies don’t pay more regard for their customers, especially as it’s obviously the customers that can make or break a product and we wonder how you feel about this?

Despite our criticism for the way both Apple and Google have handled the launches of the iPhone 5 and Nexus 4 it does go to prove how very popular both of these phones are and how much they have to offer. We included both in our selection of some of the best smartphones for the holiday season but it seems that most people didn’t need any persuasion to choose either of these phones.

We’re really interested to hear the views of readers about these supply sagas. Are you a customer who has had difficulty getting your hands on the iPhone 5 or Nexus 4? Maybe the lack of availability has led to you choosing an alternative phone? Do you accept that with flagship products such as these, demand will always outstrip supply or does it frustrate you that Apple and Google didn’t have plenty of stock to begin with? Let us know by sending your comments.

UPDATE: The Nexus 4 seems to be in stock again – The 8GB version has a 4 to 5 week shipping wait and the 16GB has a 1 to 2 week shipping wait. Read more about this here

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  • http://twitter.com/ljredux LJ Redux

    I’m in the UK and really want a Nexus 4. What’s really frustrating is the inability to pre-order. The store tells me to check back soon, and even though I check the site several times a day, I didn’t even know that there was some stock on November 25th. It must have sold out within a couple of hours for me not to even notice it.

    I contacted Google Play customer service two weeks ago with an enquiry regarding the Nexus 4 and am still waiting for a response. I find that equally annoying. Am I being foolish considering buying something from an online store which doesn’t even respond to pre-sales enquiries? Very probably, considering pre-sales enquiries are normally more highly prioritized than after-sales enquiries.

    • LEvels

      Nexus 4 will be available for purchase later today.
      Order yours from Google Play starting today, December 4 at 5:00 p.m. GMT.”

      • http://twitter.com/ljredux LJ Redux

        Thanks! I feel inclined to tip you for this information if I manage to get one. :D

      • Shravya

        hey can u please let me know when next will Nexus 4 be available on google play??? please???

    • http://twitter.com/phonesreview phonesreview

      UPDATE: The Nexus 4 seems to be in stock again over on Google Play – The
      8GB version has a 4 to 5 week shipping wait and the 16GB has a 1 to 2
      week shipping wait.

      • http://twitter.com/ljredux LJ Redux

        I got one thanks to LEvels’ post below, but thank you. I appreciate it.

        What surprises me is that both phones are still available 45 minutes later and the website is possible to navigate without problems. Glad that Google are getting their act together in that regard.

  • marshmallowhail

    wrong – demand for previous Nexus devices Direct from Google has been low. It would have been irresponsible to have huge stockpiles.

    • http://www.facebook.com/deejayscoop Michael Scoop Fawcett

      It’s quite clear that with both the specifications coupled with the priceing that this phone was going to be at least somewhat big and production should have been much higher than what it was.

      • marshmallowhail

        All Google have to go on is Historic data, they can’t be guessing what’s going to happen against the previous trend. So a new trend has appeared The nexus is now a recognized brand. Google can now plan for that right at the start of production for the next nexus device. Exponential growth may see them hedge at that point also and there will no doubt be another problem with supply although it should be far less of a problem. I think we can only judge them at that point on their improvement relative to now.

    • Dennis Mathew

      ok understood demand was low previously, ok understood it would be irresponsible, but what responsibility it is that you cant even let your customer know when will you be back online with the sales window open ??? what do u mean by Sold Out, check back later thats Rude in Social Media terms, Later means when? how many times? ok, u promised email notification, but the phone sells out in mins (29 mins first time?), how would the email help??!! First time in the mordern world i saw a BIGGIE not even accepting orders for future delivery – somethings wrong with Google x LG x Supplychain

      • marshmallowhail

        Yes the culture could be better.

    • http://twitter.com/PexHill PexHill Marketing

      ‘irresponsible’ applies to everything surrounding this debacle except huge stockpiles, ‘Never sell what you don’t have’ and never let loyal customers down is good business. Google have screwed up big time and can afford to hold and dispose of huge stockpiles.

  • Darren Wale

    The LG Optimus 4X HD has almost an identical spec to the Nexus 4 (Made by LG) and is available in white. Available as 16Gb only, but unlike the Nexus it has a 64Gb Expansion slot. They are available on the UK Ebay brand new for about the same cost as the 16Gb Nexus – Just a thought guys!!!

    • http://twitter.com/ljredux LJ Redux

      I wouldn’t touch anything of that kind on Ebay with a bargepole due to the consumer issues which can arise and which have indeed bitten me on the backside in the past.

      If only the ever so slightly lower spec LG Optimus 4X HD (1.4GHZ quad core vs 1.5GHZ quad core, 1280×720 (312ppi) vs. 1280×768 (320ppi), etc.) didn’t cost £50 quid more at reputable retailers it might be worth it.

      Its most significant shortcoming however is 1GB of RAM compared to the Nexus 4′s 2GB. That is very relevant when running Android Jellybean.

      • Timi

        WRONG! the Optimus 4X is nothing like this. The LG Optimus G and the nexus 4 are a like! Depending on which market you are in, you might even get a 13MP camera. The 4X uses Tegra 3 the G uses Quad Core Snapdragon S3.
        The Optimus G has been bootloader unlocked by some devs but development is still very slow. Mainly because its not widely available. However its a much better device than the 4x(even though its a nice device itself)

        • http://twitter.com/ljredux LJ Redux

          Well when the specs are different depending on where you look, who do you trust?

          The specs I cited are relevant to the manufacturer model no. being sold by Amazon UK…. for £50 more than the retail price of the Nexus 4 16GB in the same country.

  • http://twitter.com/SamCHopkinson Samuel Hopkinson

    Nexus is in stock in UK, you can buy it from the carphone warehouse website due to some deal they have with google? It just costs 150 quid more. erk.

    • http://twitter.com/phonesreview phonesreview

      UPDATE: The Nexus 4 seems to be in stock again over on Google Play – The
      8GB version has a 4 to 5 week shipping wait and the 16GB has a 1 to 2
      week shipping wait.

  • Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

    Availability of the Nexus 4 isn’t a problem with stock levels as much as it is with Google’s decision to give O2 exclusivity for the first month after release in the UK.
    And, the phone can be ordered SIM free from Carphone Warehouse but for £100 more than Google Play are advertising it for.
    Even so, this still appears to be a massive PR bungle, I say appears as I am still going to buy one as soon as it is available! (Unless of course HTC get around to releasing the Butterfly/Droid DNA over hear in the meantime).

  • Delighted of Tunbridge Wells

    WooHoo! Ordered. Yay!
    Had to click on ‘Proceed’ a few times before it went through but now paid for. Was forced to pay an extra tenner for shipping in 2 days? Fingers crossed :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1104850986 Jordan Whitworth

    what a horrifically written article…. i’d love to know how google can possible have “predicted” huge sales of the nexus 4 and could have “known how popular” nexus devices are when all they had to base it on was the nexus 7, having never released a nexus phone before :s

    similar story with apple – yes they always sell loads but even they wouldn’t have been able to account for such a massive increase in demand – consider that (iirc) 2 million MORE iphone 5s were sold in first weekend than iphone 4Ss they would have had to increase productivity by an additional 66% on a year on year basis which would just not be practical or possible

    to describe something as “diabolical” really is sensationalism and to be honest it’s completely unnecessary

    • joelogs

      This isn’t exactly Google’s first rodeo. The “4″ on the Nexus 4 isn’t just ornamental.

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